Tag Archives: Big Ben

Big Ben’s Ticking Clock

After last week’s embarrassing blow-out loss to the New England Patriots, the  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went on  93.7 The Fan, on Pittsburgh radio and sent a nervous tingle throughout Steeler Nation.  Big Ben went over the airwaves and stated the following:  “I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”  

If there was a bigger “if” spoken in the history of Pittsburgh sports it was probably never spoken in my lifetime.  Big Ben will be 35 years old in March, and has 13 years under his belt as an NFL quarterback.  He’s taken a beating physically – some of it his fault, some of it not his fault – but nonetheless, his body is definitely going through aches and pains that most men his age would feel when they turned 60.

So, is Big Ben’s declaration of “maybe” retiring a thing to be taken seriously.  Yes, and no.

Ben has two more years on his contract and he isn’t walking away from any money. Period, point blank.  What Ben is doing here though are two things.  1. Sending a message to the Steelers brass and 2. Acting, as what the kids would call “butt-hurt.”

The message to the Steelers organization is that he has two more years left.  He’s given everything he can.  For all things considered, he helped lead this team to the AFC Championship when most didn’t see that coming.  The Steelers have, arguably, the best offensive weapons in the league at their respective positions – wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back LeVeon Bell.  To repeat the kind of success this offense had this season would mean to retain the services of Bell, find a tight end that doesn’t get hurt and a compliment at wideout to Brown who doesn’t get suspended.

This is Roethlisberger not saying that he’ll leave – but one day, he won’t be under center for this team anymore and who knows how long it’ll take them to replace a player of his caliber.

It would be considerate of Big Ben to not leave this kind of notion in the air for too long though – considering the team is in “post-post-season” mode, which means they are looking at contracts, upcoming free agents and an NFL Draft to mold their franchise for next season.

Remember a few paragraphs ago when I referred to Roethilsberger as “butt-hurt?”  Well, I meant it.  The Steelers just lost to the Patriots by a score of 36-17.  And although the final score is what you’ll read, visually that game looked like 56-10.  The proud Steelers organization and it’s high profiled offensive stars were thoroughly embarrassed on national television.  Talking to a quarterback about the upcoming season after getting waxed like that, is like asking a girl if she’ll take her boyfriend back, when they just broke up five minutes ago.   Neither one is thinking straight and both are going to answer the question over-emotionally, with very little common sense involved in the equation.

So in this instance, Roethlisberger is a 19 year old girl.  But he has good reason to be.  As hinted at earlier, the window of opportunity for this squad is one or two more years.  One if we’re being realistic.  It’s a clutch and suave move by Roethlisberger.  When things aren’t going the way you like it, make some threats, stomp your feet and hope daddy buys you a new car – or in this case, hope the Steelers give Ben the help he needs to make it to another Super Bowl.

G.W.Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Preview

The Steelers of Pittsburgh have a lot of fantasy football nerds hyped over their offense’s potential.  They do everything right on the offensive side of the ball but for the Steelers, to enter a season and have their offense talked about more than their defense – it’s a rare occurrence – actually one might be hard pressed to see if that was ever the case for Pittsburgh.

This defense is young and is depending on their young core of linebackers to carry the weight of this unit.  Jarvis Jones was a first-round pick in 2013 who seemed to be coming into his own last year until he got hurt.  Ryan Shazier was their first-round pick out of Ohio State last season, but like Jones, had his share of injuries that slowed him down.  This season, the Steelers kept putting faith into the linebacker surplus coming out of college and they drafted Kentucky linebacker, Bud Dupree in the first-round.  Dupree is a nice athlete, but is raw when it comes to what they need: pass rushing.  His instincts in the “search and destroy” department still need help, but he’s excellent when needed to drop back into zone coverage.  With the right coaching he could develop into a nice linebacker.   Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats are the veterans on this squad which is coming into the season under the radar.  This has the potential to be the best linebacker rotation in the league if things pan out right.  The health of Jones and Shazier will play a huge role.

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The defensive line will look different without the intensity and the amazing beard of defensive end Brett Keisel.  Nobody on this roster can fill the void the beard left (literally, the beard) but someone needs to be the aggressor up front.  The Steelers are hoping to see more improvement from their sophomore end Stephon Tuitt.  What he lacks in intensity, he has in intellect.  He just needs to see the plays quicker as he at times is a step too late at the line.  Steve McLendon may be the starter at nose-tackle, but the world wants to see more of the 6’7″ 350-plus pounder Daniel McCullers.   McCullers is just a fun guy to watch, but it’s impossible to keep this monster on the field for too long, especially against fast paced offenses.

The secondary wasn’t too good when Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu were a part of it last year, and now with both men retired, the situation hasn’t gotten better.   Their best player in the secondary may be a seventh-round pick from Louisville, safety Gerod Holliman.  Holliman is more of a finesse player at the position, which is far from what fans in Pittsburgh are used to.  Especially after seeing Polamalu for all those years.

Ben Roethlisberger is under center for what may be one of the more explosive offenses he’s had at his disposal.  Ben was a marvel last year throwing thirty-two touchdowns and only nine interception for over 4900 yards.  He still plays with a chip on his shoulder and is still elusive in the pocket regardless of his huge frame.   If he had any issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley before, he’s obviously passed it all now.

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In front of Big Ben is all-pro center Maurkice Pouncey leads a steady and dependable offensive line that helped this offense finish second in time of possession, yards per game and passing yards per game.  The impressive thing about this line is how a guard like David DeCastro or Ramon Foster are able to tail out and block on the outside in the screen game.

The Steelers offense was jump-started by running back Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended the first two games of the season for a DUI arrest.  Bell had over 2200 yards last season and will continue to be the focal point of this attack.  The Steelers got some insurance this season by signing long-time Panther DeAngelo Williams to the mix.  Williams will be used mostly to spell Bell, but in those first two weeks, he will carry the load.  Williams too often has been hit or miss week to week.

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Remember when the Steelers had to decide between Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace a few years back?  Safe to say, Pittsburgh made the right choice.  For too long Brown, was going under the radar – this year, don’t expect to get him in the fourth round of your fantasy draft, especially after having a monster season with nearly 1700 receiving yards.  Brown is accompanied by speed and athleticism all along the depth chart at the receiver position.  People are expecting big things from former Clemson Tiger Martavius Bryant, who is a tall receiver with great speed; Markus Wheaton would be the number two wide-out on this team if not for the talent of Bryant – but Wheaton playing in the slot role, fits him better anyway.

The Steelers are primed for a deep playoff run, even with the lack of a secondary.   They are multifaceted on the offensive side of the ball and an MVP caliber season from Big Ben should be expected.

Predicted Record: 11-5

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Ryan Shazier, Martavius Bryant, Le’Veon Bell

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio